They Said It: Spring Football Press Conference
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: The Fourth Branch of Nebraska Football

February 21, 2017

In what is becoming something of an offseason tradition, Mike Riley potentially broke some news during a conversation with an old Oregon connection.

In an interview with Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune, Riley was talking about the Huskers’ 2017 recruiting class and hinted that Nebraska will be adding a recruiting department:

“[Recruiting] was kind of like the season,” Riley says. “We did pretty well. We hit all the spots and got some really good players who will have an impact. It’s an upgrade, yet we can do better.”

Nebraska’s football program has had three separate departments — football, operations and personnel. The Cornhuskers are adding a fourth component, which will be essentially recruiting.

“With the advent and use of social media in recruiting, we need somebody doing something 24/7,” Riley says. “We’re in the process of putting that together to help us in the acquisition of talent.”

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Assembling a support staff is one of the new signs of class, or at least the ability to balance a budget, in college football. Alabama’s “recruiting operations” staff is in the double-digits. Ohio State and Texas recently had a brief recruiting battle over the illustrator who designs recruiting materials, both print and digital, for the Buckeyes. Every school is looking for an edge.

And at Nebraska, where the recruiting job is national and more challenging than a lot of Power 5 schools, the more help the better.

Riley drops a couple other interesting notes in that story, including his impression of the 2016 season:

“People would say we won the games we should win. The games we have to win to take the next step, we did not. We have a lot of work to do.”

They would say that, wouldn’t they?

Soccer Town

Apparently it’s soccer week around here (or maybe I’m just trying to make it that way), but there’s a direct link this time.

Demba Ba, who has starred over the years for Newcastle United, Chelsea and the Senegal national team, was in Lincoln yesterday to take advantage of the Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab. Ba suffered a horrific leg break last summer while playing for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua. It’s the sort of injury that ends a soccer player’s career. (One site listed it among the “Top 15 Worst Leg Breaks in Football”, a link I regret clicking.)

Ba, 31, wasn’t ready to give up. He began his rehab in Qatar and then traveled to Lincoln with Fabrice Gautier, a trainer with the national men’s basketball team of France, to do a series of tests to check if he was ready to return to the pitch.

Ba told Brian Rosenthal of that the NAPL was as impressive a training facility as his seen.

“I’m very happy because it’s very professional and everything is high quality. I have full confidence that I’ll start playing again.”

Without a doubt, Ba said he would recommend the NAPL to other professional athletes.

“Oh, yeah, for sure. The facility is unbelievable,” Ba said. “I made the first stage of my recovery in Qatar Aspetar, which is very rich. The facility is unbelievable. But this is even a level higher.”

What does that battery of tests look like for a world-class athlete? Gautier shared a couple of photos from Monday on his Instagram feed:

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